On a day of joyous celebration commemorating the 500th anniversary of Santo Niño de Cebú, Bishop Terrence Brady blessed a new statue of the infant Jesus delivered from the Philippines to St Luke’s in Revesby.
Over 500 people in the parishes’ Filippino community arrived on 21 January to celebrate the feast, which marks the arrival of Catholicism in the Philippines in 1521 when a Spanish exhibition sailed to the island of Cebu with the gift of the statue for the newly baptised ruler.
The statue arrived last year from the Basilica of Sto Niño in Cebu and depicts the child Jesus influenced by the Spanish Catholic tradition with a gold crown, globus cruciger—globe topped with a cross—sceptre and fine garments.
Mass began with a procession and concluded with the statue blessing and a traditional Sinulog dance imitating the waves which brought Christ to the shores of the island.
The Filipino community of St Christophers in Milperra also joined with St Luke’s, with their choir leading the music for the Mass.
In his homily, Bishop Brady urged the congregation of St Luke’s to recognise the “wonderful chance we have been given to be disciples of the risen Jesus,” recognising that just as the Spanish brought Jesus to the Philippines for the first time, so every Catholic must bring Christ to others.
“On this feast of love, mercy and understanding … how well are we as a community drawing others to the love of Jesus?” he said.
“It is important we take every opportunity to keep our doors open very wide to allow others into our community.
“If I knew I could go somewhere where I felt that real impact of love, I would go back, and back, and back.
“We should ask the Lord to give us all the energy to be his disciples, evangelise and share the good news of Jesus to others, because people in our world are really searching.”
Celebrations of the 500th anniversary were postponed in Cebu and across the world in 2021 due to COVID and were instead scheduled for 2024.
Plans for the feast began over half a year ago with the call to join the newly formed Sto Niño committee at St Luke’s, which parish priest Fr Dariusz Basiaga felt was much needed with the growing Filipino presence.
“The community is so nice, happy and vibrant, and we decided we would like to honour the origins of the Filipino faith and bring this feast into our parish,” he told The Catholic Weekly.
Committee coordinator Jessica Lara, herself a proud Filipina of Chinese descent, said the efforts of the team on the day were made possible through their shared love of Christ.
“We’re proclaiming Jesus, and through him we want to entice more Filippino parishioners to come to the church,” she said.
The day concluded with a final dance and fiesta in the Parish grounds, where traditional Filipino food and music were shared amongst all.
Fr Darius hopes to build on the success of this year’s feast, looking to grow in further years in order to bring the good news to others.
“We would love everybody to come and spend time with us, but especially with our saviour,” he said.